Performing the Word: African American Poetry as Vernacular Culture

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Performing the Word offers readers of African American poetry a way of understanding and appreciating body of work that has received little critical attention. While African American literary tradition begins with eighteenth-century poets like Lucy Terry, Jupiter Hammon, and Phillis Wheatley, critical discussions of African American Poetry have been sparse. Aside from a few studies of "major" poets, such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Rita Dove, or period histories of phenomena such as the ...
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Piscataway, New Jersey, U.S.A: Rutgers Univ Pr, 1999. Soft Cover. New. Brand new, still sealed in shrink wrap! . ISBN: 0813526329 .

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New Brunswick, NJ 1999 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 192 p.

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New Brunswick, NJ 1999 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 192 p.

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Overview

Performing the Word offers readers of African American poetry a way of understanding and appreciating body of work that has received little critical attention. While African American literary tradition begins with eighteenth-century poets like Lucy Terry, Jupiter Hammon, and Phillis Wheatley, critical discussions of African American Poetry have been sparse. Aside from a few studies of "major" poets, such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Rita Dove, or period histories of phenomena such as the Harlem Renaissance, there has been little sustained critical inquiry into African American poetry as a body of literature- until now.

Fahamista Patricia Brown examines elements of African American expressive culture- its language practices, both fold and popular. Her book is an excellent introductioni to a diverse group of poets and the common basis of their work in language practices and performativity, in the expressive culture of a people. Performing the Word is an important contribution to the understanding of African American culture and American poetry as a whole.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Brown (English, Austin Peay State Univ.) organizes her study around the concept of "African American vernacular culture," which she defines as "customs and mores that appear to be most specifically manifested by persons in the United States who trace their ancestry to Africans enslaved there." One feature of this culture is an oral quality that she maintains appears in both the spoken and the written word. Aspects of this tradition manifest themselves, for example, in the frequent use of repetition (especially call and response), the didacticism (or "preachment," to use Gwendolyn Brooks's term), the utilization of music, and the boast-and-toast traditions. While the book is not a "history" of African American poetry (there is, for instance, no chronological ordering of authors), Brown does believe that poetry operates within a "continuum." Thus, Langston Hughes can be spoken of in relationship to recent poets like Saul Williams or Reg E. Gaines. This ambitious, provocative study (particularly on the place of gender and sexuality in this vernacular culture) is recommended for all black literature and/or American poetry collections.--Louis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813526324
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1999
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Toward a Vernacular Theory of African American Poetry 1
Ch. 1 Mother Tongue: African American Vernacular Speech as Poetic Language 7
Ch. 2 Orality: Language and Voice 27
Ch. 3 The Poetry of Preachment: Didacticism in African American Poetry 45
Ch. 4 Song/Talk: African American Music and Song as Poetic References 63
Ch. 5 Tell My Story: Boast and Toast Traditions 83
Ch. 6 "Black Is ... and Black Ain't": Of Gender and Generations in African American Poetry 101
Notes 123
Works Cited 129
Bibliography 137
Copyrights and Permissions 165
Index 169
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